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June 4, 2013 / Dale Melchin

King Leonidas the First Part One

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The first in our series is King Leonidas I of Sparta as portrayed in The 300.  The 300 was a great movie, I don’t care what the critics say.  It will always be a favorite of mine because of the epicness, the pace and the way it portrayed the Persian Invasion.   The first thing we will discuss is the man portrayed in the movie, then we will talk about how we can learn from him and learn to laugh at failure to the end of bringing more success into our lives.

King Leonidas the man

Leonidas had years of training from when he was a boy.  Historically he may have been exempt from the Agoge.  There is evidence that indicates that he underwent it just like everyone else in Sparta.  A modern example of the Agoge would be the requirement to serve in the military in modern Israel.  They had to train in order to handle the duties of being a Spartan.  Every man was required to do it in Sparta, just as in modern Israel.  As a result of his training, the King not only in title but in action earned the right to command the Spartan army.

The first thing we see in the movie is that he loved his country.  This is evidenced in the way he dealt with the Persian messenger.  He was willing to essentially say “go pound sand” to one of the most powerful empires at the time.  He alone had to decide what was best for the country.  Was he going to submit and get many of the freedoms the people enjoyed confiscated?  Or would he fight for those freedoms.  With the memorable words “THIS IS SPARTA!” he chose to fight.  The whole way through the film he stuck by this decision.  For honor, for country, and for family, he stuck by that decision.

The second thing we see is that he loved his wife.  It was easy to see that during the encounter with the Persian messenger that he deeply loved and respected his wife and her wisdom.  This is seen later as well during a late night conversation he was having with her to determine what would happen in the days ahead.

He loved his son.  We see this not in just the way he was wrestling around with him in the sand, but also in the lesson about respect and honor that he was teaching him.  He was looking to pass on the values he had integrated into himself.  He wasn’t willing to leave it to others, and took the task very seriously.

As the movie gets rolling we see another side of Leonidas.  It is a slightly softer one, but not much softer.  He was willing to give Ephialtes a chance to redeem his family’s honor by playing a support role in the battle.  Ephialtes being the opposite of Leonidas rejected the opportunity and betrayed the Spartans to Xerxes.  Even after talking to Ephialties again later, he didn’t curse him, but wished him well in his new life.  We see in this that Leonidas was not a petty man, but was the bigger man.

He fought valiantly.  We see this time and again through the movie.  Regardless of what incarnation of the Persian army he was dealing with, he fought against them with the very same vigor as the previous battle.  He was for a lack of a better word, hell bent on stopping that army.  And if it was possible, he’d do it himself.

He was extremely witty, even when faced with impossible odds.  This shows us extreme self mastery on his part.  Most of us couldn’t handle the stress he would’ve been faced with.  Even when he was confronted with Xerxes himself and had great offers made to him he very wittily refused.

Leonidas also laughed in Death’s face and was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the rest of the Greek Nation had a fighting chance against the onslaught of Xerxes.  Time and again we see his bravery tested and each time, from a spiritual point of view he comes out on top.

He accepted the help of others in his own witty way.  I’m particularly referring to the conversation with Daxos when the 300 meets up with the Thespians at the crossroads to the Hot Gates.  While he accepted Daxos’ help, pointed out rather comically that he brought more soldiers.  Which is true.

Now, that covers Leonidas the man as portrayed in 300.  Tomorrow we will cover the 5 things we can learn from Leonidas.

Question:  What inspires you most about Leonidas?


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